At first glance, the Super Champ XD looks very much like the much loved Super Champ of old, which was used by a lot of top session guitarists in the 1980s like Alan Murphy, who used it to great effect on sessions for Go West, Kate Bush and Level 42. The Super Champ itself was born out of the Fender Champ, only with more power and overdrive. It was well loved at the time and models in good condition change hands for respectable sums.
On closer inspection, this latest version of the Super Champ, part of the Vintage Modified series, is totally different, totally modern, and packed with the sort of features necessary to obtain the sounds that studio players would need, instantly.
The big feature on this amp is the rotary ‘Voice’ control which has 16 different amp voicings from Clean to Country to Metal and all points in between. This makes dialling in signature tones really quick and easy, I particularly liked number eight, which is a nice fat blues tone, especially with a Les Paul. There are also 16 preset DSP effects on offer, reverbs, delays and choruses as well as three speeds of tremelo. The effects have a level control too, which is hugely useful. Normally, I’m not a fan of a single 10″ speaker in a combo but the voicing feature takes care of the lack of low end you’d normally find.
Curiously, the ‘clean’ channel is just that, and although it shares the EQ, the effects are not available. What is a Fender clean sound without reverb? However, this becomes a non-issue if the amplifier is destined for use as in recording, as most people record dry.
The Super Champ XD is extremely light and portable, even though it’s a 15W valve job and employs two 6V6 tubes, the classic valve for the smaller Fender combos since day one. In use, I was seriously impressed. For small gigs, studio recording sessions, or even just rehearsals, the amp has enough different sounds and features to deliver the right tone for whetever the job is. There’s plenty of gain and enough middly ‘push’ to cut through. Using my trusty test guitars – a Les Paul and a Telecaster – it didn’t seem fazed at all by whatever style I threw at it. Best of all, it’s so quick to find the right sound.
It’s great to see Fender still up there producing amps that retain the classic looks of the old ones, but with the electronics totally updated to cater for today’s guitarist. The Super Champ XD continues the tradition.